New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick didn’t start out as one of the most brilliant minds in football.
His NFL coaching career began with the then-Baltimore Colts in 1975 as a special assistant making $25 per week. The next year he was hired by someone he knew for years, then-Detroit Lions coach Rick Forzano.
When Belichick was a child, Forzano lived with the family for a time. Belichick’s father, Steve, was an assistant coach at Navy and offered a helping hand when Forzano got hired by the school in 1959.
Belichick was in his early 20s when he coached with the Lions and is grateful that Forzano took a chance on him.
“Rick gave me a great opportunity here, because when I was with the Colts I didn’t have a position to coach. I didn’t really have a group of players that I was really responsible for,” Belichick said to NFL Films. “When I came here, Rick gave me the responsibility with the tight ends. The opportunity to coach a position, that’s a big step for any coach.
“That was an opportunity that Rick gave me that I probably wasn’t ready for, but I certainly appreciated the opportunity.”
Forzano coached the Lions for only four games in 1976, but Belichick stuck around for that season and the next before becoming an assistant with the Denver Broncos.